David Cameron Vows Action On Sexualised Adverts
David Cameron is planning tougher action against "unscrupulous" companies that use sexualised advertising and "pester power" to sell goods to children, it was revealed tonight.
Businesses have been warned that they face new rules to address fears over commercial targeting of youngsters.
In a letter - seen by the Daily Telegraph - inviting senior industry figures to meet the PM early next year, Children's Minister Sarah Teather said firms must "demonstrate the real difference they are making for families".
"The prime minister and I will expect to see concrete progress and for this to feel real and meaningful to parents and children," she said.
The missive sets out a detailed list of the coalition's aims over the next 10 months.
:: Children under the age of 16 must not be used as "brand ambassadors" or in "peer to peer" marketing campaigns. A voluntary ban is already in place but Teather insisted: "The industry needs to do further work to ensure that this is strongly enforced and that unscrupulous companies do not find ways to circumvent the ban."
:: A nationwide ban on outdoor advertising that uses "sexualised images". Ministers are keen to extend the existing voluntary arrangements. "Children go to more places than just their school and see advertising everywhere they go," Teather wrote. "If an advertisement is not acceptable close to a school, is it acceptable anywhere?"
:: So-called "lads' magazines" and other publications with sexualised images on their covers must not be in easy view of children in shops. A code of practice already exists for newsagents and retailers. "However, application of the code is very patchy and there are many shops, including many well-known high street names where these magazines and newspapers are very clearly visible to children," Teather said. "There is no reason these magazines could not be sold bagged or shelved behind modesty boards provided by publishers and wholesalers and we expect to see a great deal of progress on this issue."
:: Age ratings for music videos could be introduced as a result of a Department for Culture, Media and Sport consultation.
:: An education programme to promote awareness of advertising techniques among parents, and measures to ensure families can raise their concerns directly with businesses more effectively.
The initiative will be seen as an attempt by Cameron to reach out to mothers amid concerns over his standing among female voters.
Before entering Downing Street, the Tory leader said he wanted action to stop manufacturers pursuing children with products such as "padded bras and Lolita beds".